The Losing Trick Count
     
 
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The Losing Trick Count (LTC) is a tool to guide you when partner opens 1/ and you have an eight card or better fit. It is popular in the United Kingdom where 4 card major suit openings are prevalent.

 
 

The most common method of raising partner is simply to add the high card points

 
 

(6-9 = 2-level; 10-12 = 3-level; 13+ = go to game) but the LTC method is different and takes more account of distribution.

 
     
 
 

Playing the LTC you access each suit in turn: -

   
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With 3 or more cards in the suit, consider just the top 3; the ace, king or queen are considered to be winners, any other card is a loser.

 
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With just 2 cards in the suit, only the ace or king are winners.

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With just 1 card, only an ace is a winner.

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A void has no winners (but more importantly no losers).

 
     
 

The LTC says that you subtract your losers from 17 and that is the number of tricks that you will make assuming that partner has opened with a minimal 7 loser hand. Alternatively, subtract the number of losers in your hand from 11 and bid to that level.

 
     
 

In the following examples we assume that partner has opened 1 which may be 4-cards.

 
     
 
KJ65 2 losers There are 8 losers, so bid 3 (11-8)
Q432 2 losers  
65 2 losers  
A54 2 losers  
 
     
 
AQ65 1 loser There are 7 losers, so bid 4 (11-7) - via whatever mechanism you use to show a sound raise to game.
Q432 2 losers
65 2 losers  
A54 2 losers  
 
     
 

The scheme has its merits, but there are numerous adjustments that you have to make if you pay it seriously for instance Qxx and Axx are both defined as one winner. I do not play the LTC, I simply look at the HCPs and do sensible adjustments for shape/distribution and other features as described in the booklet on hand evaluation.

 
     
  I have been taken to task for this introduction to the LTC. Apparently the up-to-date treatment is indeed not to treat Qxx the same as Axx. Apparently in Ron Klinger's book Modern Losing Trick Count, p. 16, section titled
"Counting the Queen as a Winner". Klinger says, "It clearly cannot be correct to value a queen as highly as an ace." Bottom line, Qxx is 2½. I (Terry) assume then that Kxx is 2¼ ? This is just another way of putting what I said above ("there are numerous adjustments that you have to make").
 
     
 
For further details and examples of the LTC, read the book "The Modern Losing Trick Count" by Ron Klinger which gives more modern theory including qowngrading queens and upgrading aces. The book "The Losing Trick Count: A Book of Bridge Technique" by Dudley Courtenay describes techniques used by leading contract bridge tournament players with numerous examples of expert bidding.  
 
     
 
  Pattaya Bridge Club - www.pattayabridge.com
 
     
 
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